It’s that time of year again when we usually look back on the year that we’ve all just experienced. The highs, the lows, the good, the bad.
But it’s 2020. Does anybody REALLY want to look back on this year?
So instead I thought I’d look back a little further. Back 20 years, to country music at the beginning of the new millennium. Back when Y2K was the only bug that everybody was worried about. Let’s take a look back at the year 2000 in country music.
As everybody watched the clocks on December 31, 1999 to see if the world was going to end at midnight, Faith Hill’s “Breathe” topped the country charts going into the new year. And it would stay there for the first 5 weeks of 2000, until it was finally knocked off by the Dixie Chicks with their fourth #1 single, “Cowboy Take Me Away.”
A new country music boy band would also burst onto the scene in 2000 when Rascal Flatts released their first single, “Prayin’ for Daylight.” And a guy from Australia named Keith Urban would release his first single in the United States, with “It’s a Love Thing” peaking at #18 on the country charts.
Another relative newcomer, Chad Brock, reached #1 for the first time with his single “Yes!” And a legend in country music, Kenny Rogers, would reach the top of the charts for the first time since 1987 with “Buy Me a Rose.” At the time, Rogers was the oldest singer to ever have a #1 song on the country charts (a record that would be broken three years later when 70-year old Willie Nelson topped the charts with “Beer for My Horses,” his duet with Toby Keith).
And on the opposite end of the spectrum, 11-year old Billy Gilman became the youngest artist to ever have a top 40 single on the country charts with his debut single “One Voice.”
Brad Paisley was establishing himself as a powerhouse of the country music scene after his debut album, Who Needs Pictures, was released a year earlier. He showed off his range in 2000 by releasing two singles that were polar opposites, the comedic “Me Neither,” and the tenderhearted ballad, “We Danced,” which would go on to spend two weeks topping the charts towards the end of 2000.
By 2000, Garth Brooks was firmly at the top of his game, having sold over 100 million albums over the past 10 years. And in October, Brooks shocked the world by announcing that he would be retiring from both touring and recording so that he could raise his daughters, just days after announcing that he and his first wife would be getting a divorce. (Obviously we know now this wasn’t a permanent retirement).
2000 was also the year of the crossover country hits. Lonestar’s “Amazed,” which had gone to the top spot on the country charts back in 1999, was remixed for pop radio and became the first song to top both the Hot Country Singles and the Hot 100 chart since Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers did it with “Islands in the Stream” back in 1983. Then just a few weeks later, Lee Ann Womack would release her smash hit “I Hope You Dance,” which would go on reach #1 on both the Hot Country Songs chart and the Adult Contemporary chart. And Mark Wills had a hit with his country cover of Brian McKnight’s “Back at One.”
And in the same year that saw so many country artists on the pop charts, George Strait and Alan Jackson managed to stir up some controversy on Music Row when they accused the Nashville machine of “murdering” traditional country music.
If they only knew how much worse it would get over the next 20 years…
2000 was a year that saw both legendary artists top the charts and future legends stepping to the forefront. It was a year that set the tone for the next decade, and perfectly highlighted the clash between traditional country and a more mainstream pop sound. From George Strait and Travis Tritt to Rascal Flatts and SheDAISY, the hits from 2000 spanned the spectrum of what we considered “country music.”
So there you have it. A look back at country music in the year 2000. What were your favorite songs from that year? Was it a good year for country music, or an ominous sign of things to come?
Whatever your thoughts on that year, I think it’s only appropriate to give one final message to the year 2020 courtesy of another hit from 2000: “Kiss This.”